Jindrich Hradec remembrance ceremony 2016

On 27 September 2016 the annual ceremony to remember the RAF airmen from the Jindrich Hradec region was held.

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More details to follow.

Posted in 310 Sqd, 311 Sqd, 312 Sqd, 313 Sqd, 68 Sqd, Ceremony, Not Forgotton | Leave a comment

John Boulton – 310 Sqn

John Eric Boulton was a English career RAF flying instructor who was seconded to the newly formed 310 (Cechoslovak) Squadron in July 1940. His task was to re-train the Czechoslovak pilots to fly British Hurricane fighter aircraft as quickly as possible so that they could fight in the Battle of Britain.

John Eric Boulton was born on the 24th of November, 1919, at Bosham near Chichester, the third child, and only son of Charles and Annie Boulton. He attended a secondary school in Lewes, and then Hastings Grammar School. He left school at sixteen, apparently set on joining the RAF. His older half sister had married a man called Freddie Fox-Barrett who had taken a short-service commission in the RAF, and apparently John very much admired him.

He was, of course, far too young yet for the RAF, so his father’s old colonel in the Sussex Yeomanry, Colonel Powell-Edwards, managed to find him a job in London with the Buick car company, where he could learn something about high performance engines, while waiting to be old enough for the RAF.

Just over a year later, in the autumn of 1937, at the earliest possible age, John was allowed by the RAF to enrol in the de Havilland School of Flying at Hatfield for a course of “ab initio” instruction, being taught to fly using Tiger Moths. He met there several of the people who were to go with him to No.2 Flying Training School at Brize Norton. This school had recently come to Brize Norton from Digby, and John’s course, No.35, was the first to form there.


John was quite easily the youngest member of his course; this and his youthful good looks earning him the nickname of “Boy” Boulton, even, according to one or two, “Pretty Boy” Boulton. The commanding officer of the school, Group Captain Franks L.Robinson, DSO, MC, DFC, ADC, thought highly of John. When he passed with a Special Distinction, the star performer of his course, Robinson wanted him back at Brize Norton as a Flying Instructor.

Course 35

There were at Brize Norton at this time two types of training. You could train for fighters, using the Hawker Hart, a twin-seater, all metal monocoque bi-plane, and its variants, or you could train for multi-engine aircraft using the Airspeed Oxford. John trained on Harts, although he had “air experience” flights in the Oxfords, eventually being qualified to fly them both.

However, first of all he had to obtain some experience on one of the squadrons, so he went to 29 Squadron at Debden for a couple of months, during which time his squadron – and he – took part in the enormous armoured combined exercises of the Mobile Division on Salisbury Plain. He then went to the Central Flying School, which was then at Upavon, to do the Flying Instructors’ Course. When he had completed this he returned to Brize Norton in late December, 1938, as a very junior Flying Instructor. It is worth bearing in mind that he was still only nineteen.

For the next eighteen months his life was taken up with the busy routine of a Service Flying Training School, trying to get as many pilots ready in as short a time as possible for the conflict which was looming ahead. The only intriguing detail about his life at this time is the two occasions on which he was promoted to Acting Flight Lieutenant for short periods. I cannot find out from anybody who was there what was the reason for this.

Like many of his colleagues he enjoyed driving, and owned a Wolseley motor car. During off-duty periods they used to drive all over the country round, making expeditions to places like Minster Lovell and Oxford, and rowing on the Thames. There used to be, as one of his friends put it, quite a lot of “drinking and wenching”. There are photographs of an occasion when he and a friend hired a couple of aircraft from the civilian airfield at Witney in order to take up for a joyride two nurses from the nearby hospital.

With the outbreak of war the pace quickened quite considerably. The training course was quickly reduced in length and made much more intensive. John and his colleagues trained many of the pilots who went on to fight in France and in the Battle of Britain. David Bell-Salter, Jack Rose and “Cocky” Dundas are three of the names that come readily to mind. As well as the pace hotting up, there was a change of aircraft. The Harts were pensioned off and in their place came the tremendously noisy North American Harvards. There were problems with these at first, especially with night flying training, because the pilots were not used to gyroscopic instruments and did not give them time to settle down before taking off. Several pupils were killed when they banked straight into the ground off a turn. The problem was finally solved by a Sergeant Instructor called Walter West who worked out what must have been happening.

John’s fitter was a man called Eddie Tumber, who still remembers the occasions when John took him up in the Harvard, quite unofficially, to do air tests. There is a tree planted at Duxford in John’s memory, given by Eddie Tumber.

In June of 1940, after the fall of France people of all different nationalities started arriving in England hoping for a chance to carry on the war against Hitler. Among them was a contingent of Czechoslovakian Airmen. They had had a particularly harrowing time. They had been forbidden to fight when Hitler walked into Czechoslovakia in 1938. They had escaped to Poland with the intention of fighting there, but that country collapsed around them. They then escaped to France, joined the Foreign Legion and waited; but no sooner had they been allowed to join the French Air Force and start fighting than that country collapsed, too. They arrived in England in a rather cynical mood, but still extremely anxious to carry the war to the Germans.

Their arrival coincided with an increase of the pressure on Britain; in particular with the near approach of the great air battle which Dowding had perfectly accurately foreseen would come.

They arrived by various means, some of the first arriving by ship at Falmouth, others by a longer route to Liverpool. They were sent first to Bridgenorth and then to Cosford for the preliminary sorting out. However, for a group of about twenty five officer pilots and about 180 ground crewmen, the process was accelerated and these were sent to Duxford, the home of 19 Squadron. The intention was to form a Czech Fighter Squadron with 100% reserves of pilots. This squadron became 310 (Czechoslovak) Squadron. It began to form on July 10th, 1940, with the arrival of the two British Flight Commanders, Jerrard Jefferies and Gordon Sinclair. Soon afterwards, according to the Squadron’s Diary, the Squadron Commander, Douglas Blackwood, arrived.

F/O John Boulton, F/O Jerrard Jefries, F/Lt Gordon Sinclair.

After only a very short time Blackwood requested the presence of a Flying Instructor, who was to bring with him a Miles Master – then the standard trainer for Hurricanes and Spitfires. This Flying Instructor was John Boulton. (It is a strange detail that, according to the Squadron Diary, John arrived before Douglas Blackwood.)

There were two problems that had to be solved. The first was the language problem. Several of the Czechs could speak French, some quite well, but none of them could speak a word of English. A start was made by engaging F/O Ladislav Češek, a Briton of Czech origin, as an interpreter to assist in overcoming the language barrier and employing a Mr Louis de Glehn from Cambridge to come to the airfield once a week to give English lessons to the Czechs.

The second problem was one to do with the aircraft. In France they had been flying Curtiss Fighters, Dewoitines and Morane-Saulniers, none of which had the high performance of the Hurricanes with which 310 Squadron was to be equipped. Also, several of the controls either functioned slightly differently, or else operated in the reverse direction. Two which gave considerable trouble were the throttle lever and the undercarriage selector. It was by no means unknown for pilots who had flown French aircraft to land their nice new English aircraft on their bellies. And one can imagine the chaos that would be caused by a pilot coming into land and “cutting” the throttle only to find his engine immediately going to full power.

Alexander ‘Sasha’ Hess’s recalls this time in his book’Byli jsme v Bitvě o Anglii’.

Alexander ‘Sasha’ Hess

In the meantime we were training on the new machines. First machines were Tutor and Master, F/O Boulton was patient and careful instructor on them, he was learning Czech at the time. We tried to penetrate as soon as possible and thoroughly into the mysteries of the language of Shakespeare: many of us chose as teachers the WAAFs, for us men it was both pleasant and useful. We can give first hand testimony about the diligence and good work of these English women.

There was also a problem, rather lesser, of Czechs who were so mad keen to get at the Germans that they lied about their flying experience. John apparently used to tell of a man who he took up in the dual control Master and then invited to fly the thing. It was only then that the man admitted that he was only an air gunner and had no idea of how to actually pilot an aircraft.

So, there were two jobs to be done, and both needed to be done against the clock. Firstly they had to select the first sixteen pilots who would be sufficiently competent for the squadron to be declared operational. Secondly, having selected them, they had to give them sufficient experience on their new aircraft to enable them both to survive and to shoot down Germans when they started fighting. These jobs were handled jointly by John Boulton, the Squadron Commander and the two Flight Commanders.

We must remember that all these Czech pilots were very experienced pilots and also that most of them had had a great deal of combat experience in France, and some had also fought in Poland. They were also rather older than the average British pilot – their flying training and general military training took much longer. Indeed, the Czech Squadron Commander who double-banked Douglas Blackwood – a man called Alexander Hess, who had fought as an artilleryman in the Austrian army in the First World War, became the oldest pilot to actually fly in action in the Battle of Britain, being forty four years old.

310 Sqn

The squadron was finally declared operational on the 17th of August, and went into action for the first time the next day. John Boulton should have now gone back to Brize Norton to resume his life there as a Flying Instructor. However, he had grown to like his Czech pupils, and they had grown very fond of him. (One thing that especially touched them was that he was taking the trouble to learn their language – as he said “so that they should not think they were the only ones having difficulty with all the learning”).

He applied for permission to accompany the squadron in action. One ought to explain that he was never officially a member of the squadron, being only “attached” to it. However, Douglas Blackwood, after some persuasion was able to get permission for John to fly with the squadron. He flew with them operationally only on seven occasions. Again one needs to remember that, although he was a very experienced pilot indeed, he had had no operational experience before this time. Fairly soon the squadron suffered its first casualty – Jarda Štěrbáček – who had been a particular friend of John’s. This confirmed him in his determination to fight with the squadron. In the huge air battle in the afternoon of September the 7th he shot down a Heinkel 111 onto the Goodwin Sands. This was claimed by a pilot on another squadron – Sergeant Helcke of 504 Squadron – and the claim seems to have been awarded to him, but John was certain that it was his score.

310 Sqn, Duxford 1940.

On September the 9th there was another huge raid against London in the early evening. The Duxford Squadrons were scrambled to intercept them. While approaching the battle, squadrons still used to fly in tight formations of four sections of three, each section flying abreast and the four sections close behind each other. Gordon Sinclair was leading the squadron on this occasion. When they went into action he gave the order to break to starboard and go into line astern. As he did this he noticed the Me 109’s coming down on them from above, and broke in the opposite direction himself. John was flying Hurricane P3888 as port wingman of the first section and simply did not have any room to avoid the collision with Sinclair’s Hurricane P3888.

According to the versions given to me by eight or nine eyewitnesses, some in the air and some on the ground, both aircraft suffered damage to one wing and both then hit a German Me 110c 2N+EP, W. Nr. 3207 from 9/ZG76. One version has it that the whole lot then blew up in the air, but that cannot have happened. The version which most agree on is that the two Hurricanes came drifting down very slowly, rather like sycamore leaves, probably with Sinclair’s aircraft upside down, spiralling round and very close to each other, and each with one wing being bent up at right angles. The Me 110 had its tail section nearly severed and came straight down with both engines at full bore. It came to ground in the garden of “Kennicott” in Woodcote Park Avenue, Wallington. One of the crew, Feld/w Eduard Ostermüncher, got out and opened his parachute, very close to the ground. He was either killed when he hit the ground or else he was murdered by a pair of Canadian soldiers who were seen coming out of the field where his body lay and making remarks to the effect that they had finished him off. His body lay in the field for several days until someone could be found to take responsibility for it. The other German, Gefreiter Werner Zimmermann, died inside the aircraft.

The two Hurricanes were still spiralling down, having collided at about 20,000 feet. Gordon Sinclair had great difficulty in getting out of his aircraft as the wing had apparently jammed the cockpit canopy. It would seem that at some stage his aircraft flipped and he was thrown out. He parachuted down very slowly, taking about thirteen minutes to drift down into Coulsdon High Street at the feet of an Irish Guards Lieutenant with whom he had been at school. His aircraft came to rest upside down on a chicken run by the engine testing shed at the southern end of the smallholding allocated to No-55 Woodmansterne Lane, Wallington. At some stage it had parted company with its engine, which came down more to the north east, nearer the Woodcote Road.

John Boulton’s aircraft, with him clearly visible inside slumped over the controls – either unconscious or dead – came down with smoke issuing from it and landed on top of some pig styes on Mr Bayley’s smallholding at No.53 Woodmansterne Road, Wallington, and exploded into flames. It burned fiercely for about an hour. Several people remember the fire brigade hoses across the road and the home guard shooting all the burned pigs, and also the body being removed from the wreckage. At the time, in accordance with what appears to have been an official British practice of trying to avoid admitting to British pilot casualties, it was given out that the dead man was a Czech airman.

Alexander ‘Sasha’ Hess’s recalls this day in his book’Byli jsme v Bitvě o Anglii’.

9th September, 1940, was a black day for us. Our young instructor F/O Boulton was killed, he had not been with us for long. As soon as we accepted him we lost him. But by the time we’ll learn to understand that every meeting is a beginning of a farewell … . Boulton was assigned to us with a few other British officers when our squadron was established. He was only a youngster, not quite 21, but we could not have had a better instructor. He did not even look his age of 20; at home we would have said a boy prior to his matriculation. But Boulton had experience and exceptional capability and his thousand flying hours spoke for themselves. He soon started to learn Czech. He took any opportunity and devoted to this task a lion’s share of his energy. He did not realise what his sincere endeavour meant to us.

Many of us were beside ourselves with joy when in the two seater training aircraft during the training flight we could hear “Do prava”, “Do leva”, and hear on the intercom the Czech jargon “Netahni tolik” (Don’t pull so much) and “potlaaaac” (push).

When we became operational it was mainly thanks to our golden boy Boulton. He taught us how to handle the British machines, he made us familiar with the peculiarities and new routines of the RAF aircraft mainly with our Hurricanes. We struggled with English so he joined us and started to learn Czech. “So you see, boys, you are not the only ones who are learning.”

The real fighting started and brought us success. We were taking off for defence and offence and returned happy with the satisfaction we could punish the aggressors. Boulton got fed up that in his position as instructor he could not participate directly in the fight. He enjoyed the successes of his pupils, but was nagged by the thought that enemy were getting away who he could have shot down himself. His post as an instructor was not enough for him. He wanted to do more and did everything possible in order to be assigned as an operational pilot in our squadron.

From one bitter fight our little Jarda Sterbacek did not return. Boulton walked silently onto the airfield, looked out and waited. We were very sad because Jarda was our first casualty. The face of young Boulton reflected our loss more than any. His eyes sunk deep in his face, lips were tight, he was grieving silently. I will never forget the expression in his child-blue eyes when he said in Czech “Jarda is missing”.

Soon afterwards he succeeded and became operational. In his first sortie he brought revenge for Jarda. His accurate shooting hit a Heinkel 111 and relieved by this victory his hostility towards the enemy. The Heinkel broke into many pieces. Ever since then Boulton’s eyes lost their youthful blue and took on the colour of steel.

9th September. A day of tough fighting when the sky turned into hell and the aircraft on the horizon turned into a devil’s pack. Boulton took off enthusiastically and passionately into the focus of the fighting. He attacked directly the centre of the enemy formation, unfortunately hitting a Dornier 215 heavy bomber. The whole German crew disappeared in the explosion that followed the collision, but in the flames and smoke disappeared our Boulton, too.

We could not believe that we would never see him. We walked with reverence around the place belonging to him among us. And this place, you young Englishman, we will always keep in our memories.

John was buried in Bandon Hill Cemetery on the 13th of September as an unidentified RAF Pilot; it was not until several days later that his identity discs were found at the site of the crash. One of the dead Germans, Feld/w Eduard Ostermüncher, was also buried at Bandon Hill, but he has since been removed to the German Cemetery at Cannock.

14th December. Once again President Dr Benes came. It was a feast not only for us Czechs but for the British staff of the station who took part in the parade. At this occasion President Benes awarded the Czech War Cross to our British colleagues, Wing Cdr Woodhall, Flt/Lts Sinclair and Jefferies and also in memory of F/O Boulton in the hands of the station commander with a request to give it to Boulton’s mother.

Mr Bayley moved away some years later and started a pig farm at Bookham near Leatherhead, where his son still lives. Mr Jeff Beadle now has No-53, Woodmansterne Lane, and allowed me and Messrs Colin Brown and Colin Pratley to come down the other day to investigate the site – largely to prove which site was which. At the end of Mr Beadle’s greenhouses, where he said the pig styes used to be, we found several exploded .303 cartridges, one or two unmelted solid bullets, three or four lumps of melted aluminium, bits of exploded engine casing, and a brass stopcock of the type fitted to Hurricanes. We have therefore proved two points: first the exact location of John’s crash, second that the aircraft must have burned very fiercely. We still have to confirm, by finding just one piece, the exact place at which Sinclair’s aircraft came down.

Personnel from No.49 Maintenance Unit, based at Faygate near Horsham, inspected the crash sites on the 15th of September. Sinclair’s aircraft, R4084, was cleared away on the 17th of September and John Boulton’s, V7412, on the 22nd of September. It appears that most of the MellO, 3207.2N+EP, is still there underneath the garden of “Kennicott”. The bodies of John Boulton and the two Germans were recovered and buried. Gordon Sinclair retired from the RAF as a Wing Commander in 1957, and died in June 2005.

Another recollection from Alexander ‘Sasha’ Hess’s book’Byli jsme v Bitvě o Anglii’.

14th December. Once again President Dr Benes came. It was a feast not only for us Czechs but for the British staff of the station who took part in the parade. At this occasion President Benes awarded the Czech War Cross to our British colleagues, Wing Cdr Woodhall, Flt/Lts Sinclair and Jefferies and also in memory of F/O Boulton in the hands of the station commander with a request to give it to Boulton’s mother.

In England, he is commemorated, along with the other 2936 Battle of Britain pilots, on the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall at the National Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne, Kent:

He is also commemorated on the London Battle of Britain Memorial and also in the church at Henley in Arden..

Henley in Arden

The esteem that the Czech pilots of 310 Sqn held for John Boulton can be gauged from this extract from ‘Wings in Exile by Bohus Beneš :


Today, alas! we can do no more than remember you. Your twenty-one years were little enough for a Flying Instructor, but your brilliant skill, which we all recognised when you, on our arrival from France, first began to prepare us for flying on British machines, and your thousands of hours of flying experience showed us how well you had been chosen.

We sympathise with your gloom over the fact that you were not permitted to take active part in the systematic destruction of the German Luftwaffe, when they shot down the pupils that you had trained, and we rejoiced with you when the order came that appointed you to the fighting ranks of the First Czechoslovak Fighter Squadron.

We so well remember your every-day “Nazdar-Evzen”, your cheerful smile, clouded over in the moment when you told us, in Czech, “Jarda’s missing”. You had no need to tell us you would avenge him, we knew you too well, and we knew your fighting quality.

We never knew how you went . We came back out of that roaring whirl of aircraft, machine-gun fire, smoke and shell-bursts one by one. We waited for you all that evening – September 9th. And the next day – and the next.

You never came back. We will avenge you, J.Boulton. We remember how you yourself avenged the death of the first of our comrades to fall in Great Britain; we saw you, in your first air battle, shoot to pieces a Heinkel 111 “in payment for Jarda”.

The six Germans that we shot down in the fight in which you fell are the first instalment of the price we shall exact for your young life. You gave it for those same ideals which are graven on our own hearts in letters of burning flame.


© Ben Chamberlain

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Jindrichuv Hradec 27 August 2016

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13 August at the Winged Lion

17:00 13 August 2016.

17:00 13. srpna 2016.

The 71st anniversary of return of the Czechoslovak RAF personnel to their homeland was commemorated at a ceremony by the Winged Lion monument at Klárov, Prague.

Na pražském Klárově u Památníku Okřídleného lva se konal vzpomínkový obřad při příležitosti 71. výročí návratu personálu československé RAF do vlasti.

Attending were Brigadier General and former commander of the Czech Air Force Czech Libor Štefánik, Colonel Petr Hromek, Deputy Commander of the Czech Air Force, Oldřich Lomecký, Mayor of Prague 1 District Authority, CzRAF veteran Col Pavel Vranský, local officials, Czech RAF veterans widows Mrs Fajtolová, Mrs Husmanová, numerous relatives of CzRAF airmen including from the UK, military parachute veterans and well-wishers Honour guard was provided by Scouts, the Sokol group and period re-enactors. Music provided by a kilted bagpipes player.

Obřadu se zúčastnili brigádní generál a bývalý velitel českého letectva Libor Štefánik, zástupce velitele Vzdušných sil Armády ČR plukovník Petr Hromek, starosta Prahy 1 Oldřich Lomecký, veterán plukovník české RAF Pavel Vranský, dále zástupci místní samosprávy, vdovy veteránů české RAF paní Fajtolová a paní Husmanová, řada příbuzných pilotů české RAF, včetně těch z Velké Británie, veteráni-parašutisté a další příznivci a sympatizanti. Čestnou stráž drželi skauti, příslušníci Sokola a členové klubu vojenské historie. O hudební doprovod se postaral dudák v tradičním kiltu.

Jiří Stanislav on behalf of Křížovníci s červeným srdcem. Cyriaci, Nadační fond generála Janouška and Česká mincovna, the events organisers, acted as master of Ceremonies and welcomed all to the event, often in English for the benefit of non-Czech speakers present.

Obřad zahájil Jiří Stanislav, který jménem pořadatelů akce, Křížovníků s červeným srdcem, Cyriaků, Nadačního fondu generála Janouška a České mincovny, všechny přivítal a obřadem poté provázel česky i anglicky, což všichni česky nemluvící účastníci ocenili.

video courtesy of Jan Šinágl

With Dvořák New World symphony played on the bagpipes, wreaths and flower bouquets were then laid on behalf of Křížovníci s červeným srdcem. Cyriaci , Prague 1 District Authority, the Czech Air Force and others with who had a personal connection to the CzRAF.

Za doprovodu Dvořákovy symfonie Z nového světa v dudáckém provedení pak byly položeny věnce a kytice – jménem Křížovníků s červeným srdcem, Cyriaků, zástupců radnice Prahy 1, Vzdušných sil Armády ČR a dalších, kteří byli s českou RAF nějak osobně spjati.

Opening speech was by Oldřich Lomecký who reminded all of the heroism of the Czechoslovak RAF airmen who fought and died during WW2 for the freedom of their homeland, emphasising that this should not be forgotten by the youth of today. Col. Pavel Vranský then gave a speech outlining the achievements of the Czechoslovaks serving in the RAF during WW2.

Úvodní proslov pronesl Oldřich Lomecký. Připomněl v něm hrdinství pilotů české RAF, kteří během druhé světové války bojovali a padli za svobodu své vlasti, a zdůraznil, že dnešní mladí by na jejich zásluhy neměli zapomínat. Plukovník Pavel Vranský se poté rozhovořil o úspěších Čechoslováků během jejich služby v RAF za druhé světové války.

A short speech was made by Jan Adámek. member of the Letecký klub generála Janouška. who then presentation of Cz airmen badge plaques to Oldřich Lomecký and Gen Libor Štefánik.

Krátký proslov pronesl Jan Adámek, člen Leteckého klubu generála Janouška. Oldřich Lomecký a Generál Libor Štefánik od něj poté obdrželi znak českého letectva.

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Brig. Gen Libor Štefánik in his speech highlighted the role of the Czech Air Force in todays world and thanked the British expat community in the Czech Republic for the Winged Lion monument which they donated to Prague 1 in 2014. Until 9 August, Brig. Gen Libor Štefánik had been Commander in Chief of the Czech Air Force, and so he was presented with several mementos as an informal recognition of his recent role before his move to Sweden for his new assignment as Czech Defence Attache.

Brigádní generál Libor Štefánik vyzdvihl ve svém projevu roli českého letectva v dnešním světě a poděkoval komunitě britských exulantů žijících v České republice za Památník Okřídleného lva, který Praze 1 darovali v roce 2014. Až do 9. srpna byl brig. gen. Libor Štefánik hlavním velitelem Vzdušných sil Armády ČR, a dostal proto na památku několik předmětů jako výraz uznání jeho dosavadního působení. Nyní bude ve Švédsku zastávat funkci atašé Obrany ČR.

The event was concluded with a wreath being laid at the nearby memorial plaque for Air Marshall Karel Janoušek.

Akce byla zakončena položením věnce poblíž pamětní desky leteckého maršála Karla Janouška.


Clearly a lot of work had been done to organise this event, but a great pity that there was no pre-event promotion for this ceremony in the public domain so that more people were aware of it and have the opportunity to attend. Hopefully this will not be repeated for next years event.

Zorganizovat takovouto akci stálo pořadatele jistě mnoho úsilí, proto je velká škoda, že jí nepředcházela žádná propagace ve veřejném prostoru a nevědělo o ní více lidí, kteří by se jí mohli zúčastnit. Doufejme, že v dalších letech se to již nestane.


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13. 8. 2016 – Winged Lion

V sobotu, třináctého srpna jste všichni zváni k Okřídlenému lvu na Klárově.

Vzpomínková akce na pozdní přílet našich letců RAF třináctého srpna 1945 do vlasti, začíná v 17.00.

Děkujeme předem za vaši účast.

Křížovníci s červeným srdcem. Cyriaci – Nadační fond generála Janouška – Česká mincovna

At 17:00 13 August 2016 you are all invited to the Winged Lion monument at Klarov, Prague.

The event is to commemorate the return of the Czechoslovak RAF airmen who returned to their homeland in 1945.

Thank you in advance for your participation.

Crusaders with red heart. Cyriacs – Nadační fond generála Janouška – Česká mincovna

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Kent Battle of Britain Museum

Nearly hidden away because of a housing estate built on the former airfield ay RAF Hawkinge is a jewel of aviation history known at the Kent Battle of Britain Museum.

Whilst now a very impressive museums, it had very humble origins. It was in 1969 when Mike Llewellyn, a ardent collector of Battle of Britain artefacts who was running out of space for his collection at home. He was given the opportunity to display the collection in a chicken shed, at Langley Court, Kent, which was run by former Battle of Britain pilot Brian Hitchins. The extra space resulted in rapid acquisition of more Battle of Britain artefacts and soon more space was required. The move came in 1972 when Lord Massereene of Chilham offered a hall at his Chilham Castle for the collection to be displayed. Here the embyro museum was manned by Mike, the museums Curator, and a team of volunteers. By the early 1980’s the collection had rapidly expanded to include artefacts from some 300 RAF and Luftwaffe aircraft which had been shot down during the course of the Battle of Britain as well as memorabilia, uniforms, photographs, documents and weapons. Soon the collection had now outgrown the space available to it at the Castle and a new location was sought to allow further expansion.

Operations block

In 1980, new premises were acquired; a 3 acre site at the former WW2 RAF airfield at Hawkinge, where 313 (Czechoslovak) Sqn was deployed for a short time in 1944, and the collection was housed in original airfield buildings which bore visible signs of cannon shell holes from strafing Me109s – and still visible today!. The new Hawkinge site opened in 1982 and enabled more of the museums collection to be displayed with the inclusion of aircraft as well. Within the Museums grounds are now displayed three Hawker Hurricane’s which were former gate guard replicas.

In 1968 some scenes from the film ‘The Battle of Britain’ were filmed at the airfield, whilst many original Spitfires and Hurricanes where used for aerials filming, there were also replica’s used for ground scenes. The museum acquired some of these replica’s and two Hurricanes, two Spitfires, three Me109’s and scale models of HeIII’s can be seen on display in the museum.

Much of the former airfield is now redeveloped for residential housing and virtually surrounds the Museum. Despite this the Museum, now a registered charity, is a jewel of historical aviation information and is the most comprehensive collection of Battle of Britain artefacts to be displayed anywhere in the world.

In addition to the original RAF buildings on the site, an original Romney hut – now the Lord Dowding hangar – was acquired in 1986 and in 1993 generous donations enabled the modern Stuart-Buttle Memorial Hangar to be added. A Nissen hut, used on the original wartime airfield as the ‘B’ Flights pilots dispersal hut, was acquired and re-sited in the museums grounds holding a V1 rocket.

Lord Dowding Hangar.

Currently the Museum holds aircraft, vehicles, weapons, flying equipment, prints, memorabilia and relics from over 700 crashed aircraft from the Battle of Britain, a battle in which 88 Czechoslovak pilots flew, nine of whom were to be killed. On display in the Armoury is the world’s largest collection of original Battle of Britain uniforms and flying equipment.

Armoury – RAF section.

Armoury – Luftwaffe section.

Even now, so many years after that iconic battle was fought, new items for display are regularly being donated to the Museum from relatives around the world, of pilots or aircrew who had flown in the Battle or new artefacts being discovered. One of the latest additions to the collection, in February 2015, was a Boulton-Paul Defiant which stands in-line with Hawker Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires, making it the only display of its kind worldwide.

Each year the museum is attracting more visitors, many of whom are from around the world, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand as well as from the Czech and Slovak Republic’s elsewhere from Europe and even Germany. Many of the visitors have a family connection to a Battle of Britain pilot. The museum prides itself in that it strives to present a ‘balanced’ representation of the battle not restrict itself to just the Allied pilots. The artefacts from Luftwaffe and Italian aircraft and airmen that fought in that conflict are also displayed, the current mix of artefacts approximately 45% Allied and 55% Axis.

Some 2938 Allied pilots flew in the Battle of Britain, of whom 88 were Czechoslovak some of whom have articfacts in the Museum. Of particular interest for visitors from the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic is the display of some of the remains of Hurricane Mk I, V7437, in which Sgt Josef Koukal was badly burnt when he was shot down on 7 September 1940. His aircraft crashed on farmland at Capel Fleet, Harty Marshes on the Isle of Sheppey. Kent and was recovered, buried some 10 metres deep, in 1972. Later that year he came from Czechoslovakia to England to see the remains of his aircraft at the Museum. On his return to his homeland he was subjected to StB interrogation which precluded any return visits to the UK.

Other Czechoslovak artefacts include items from František Hradil’s Spitfire P7545, Josef František, a combat report from Bohumír Fürst, Raimund Půda also visited the Museum to see remains of his Hurricane V6619, František Mareš’s Spitfire, Václav Bergman’s Hurricane P3960, Josef Hubáček’s Hurricane R4087, as well as from Vilém Göth and Josef Jaške. Artefacts for Gordon Sinclair and John Boulton, who where British instructors to 310 Sqn at Duxford, are also displayed in the Museum.

Sadly Mike Llewellyn MBE passed away in October 2013 but his pioneering work continues with Dave Brocklehurst MBE taken on the mantel of the Museum’s Chairman and Curator. Both Mike and Dave being honoured with the MBE, nominated by various Battle of Britain pilots, in recognition for their work with the Museum.

The Museum has a shop and cafeteria on site. The shop, apart from being well-stocked also has numerous displays of photographs taken from when the Battle of Britain film was being made at Hawkinge airfield.

Address: Aerodrome Road, Hawkinge, Nr. Folkestone, Kent CT18 7AG.
GPS Location: 51°06’47.8″N 1°09’06.6″E
Map Location: View
2016 Opening Times: March, April, May & October: 10:00 to 16:00
June to September 10:00 to 17:00
Last entry time 1 hour before closing.


Please note that regretfully, on the grounds of both security and copyright, the Museum does not permit cameras, video recorders or any other types of recording equipment (including electronic notebooks and mobile telephones) in the Museum.

Due to security issues and a theft from the museum in 2002 no bags, except handbags, are allowed in the museum. Valuable items and cameras that may be at risk if stored in a motor vehicle can be deposited securely at the museum ticket office and collected upon your departure. Likewise motorcycle crash helmets, bags and clothing can also be securely deposited on arrival.


The assistance of David Brocklehurst MBE, Chairman of the Museum, with this article is very much appreciate.

Article last updated: 9 August 2016.

Posted in 310 Sqd, 312 Sqd, Aircraft, Battle of Britain, Information, Museum | 1 Comment

Biggin Hill 21 July 2016

Some scenes from the events at Biggin Hill on 21 July at St Georges Chapel, the Sptifire Heritage Hangar, the London Battle of Britain Memorial and the RAF Club, London.

Biggin Hill arrival

Biggin Hill arrival of the Czech Air Force CASA C-295

Brig. Gen. Libor Stefanik, Chief of the Czech Air Force, leads the party from the aircraft.

Gen Emil Boček.

Cardinal Dominik Duka, Archbishop of Prague, and of a Czech RAF airman.

With Martin Ježek – Omnimedia’s PR Manager and media co-ordinator.

Geeting by Will Curtis, Managing Director at Biggin Hill Airport.

At St George’s Chapel

The four Czechoslovak pilots commemorated at St Georges Chapel.

Cardinal Duka, Jiří Stanislav, of
Křížovníci s červeným srdcem Cyriaci Mezinárodní nevládní organizace and Laurie Chester of St George’s Chapel with the replica Infant Jesus of Prague statue.

Cardinal Duka leads the bi-lingual mass and blessing of the Infant Jesus of Prague statue with Paul Wright, Archdean of Beckenham and Bromley.

So finally, following our article on St George’s Chapel, there is now a Czech presence in the Chapel

Photo shoot by the Spitfire gate-guard.

Presentation of Remembrance painting to St Georges Chapel by artist Jiří Soukup.

At Spitfire Heritage Hangar, Biggin Hill.

Where ninety-four year old Gen Emil Boček will realise his dream of flying a Spitfire.

Two seater Spitfire MJ627, piloted by Don Sigournay, which will be used for the flight.

Being escorted to the Spitfire by Brig. Gen. Libor Stefanik.

Final photo’s before take-off

About to depart


Biggin-Hill take-off

Flypast alongside Harvard camera aircraft.

With Harvard camera airctaft.

Just landed.

Hmm….now to face the media again!

Joe Vochyan, Gen Emil Boček and Brig. Gen. Libor Stefanik remember 310 (Czechoslovak) Sqn.

With the BBC.

yet and another interview with Brig. Gen. Libor Stefanik observing.

With his pilot Don Sigournay.

And also while at the Heritage Hangar.

Brig. Gen. Libor Stefanik has the opportunity to sit in a Spitfire.

..so how do I start her up asks Brig. Gen. Libor Stefanik.

H.E. Libor Sečka, Czech Ambassador to London, Jiří Soukup and Jiří Svatos, Czech Defence Attaché, London having been presented with pictures of the ‘Alsterufer‘ sinking by artist Jiří Soukup.

And a birthday surprise for Brig. Gen. Libor Stefanik.

Hurricane coin from new coin set by Česká mincovna depicting aircraft flown by the Czechoslovak RAF squadrons in WW2.

The Liberator coin.

The Spitfire coin.

The Wellington coin.

At London’s Battle of Britain Memorial.

Wreath laying ceremony.

Presentation by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, Chief of the RAF to Gen Boček

Joe Voychan from the Czech Spitfire Club being interviewed about the 88 Czechoslovak pilots who flew in the Battle of Britain.

At the RAF Club, London.

Presentation of two paintings by Jiří Soukup to the RAF Club, London.

Group Captain Michael Longstaff, British Defence Attaché to Prage, Jiří Soukup and Brig. Gen. Libor Stefanik, Chief of the Czech Air Force.

The next day, 22 July.

Bomber Command Memorial.

Despite this Memorial being less that 100 metres away from the RAF Club, there was no official visit here to remember the 153 Czechoslovak airmen of 311 Sqn who died whilst the squadron served Bomber Command. The squadron lost a total of 273 airmen during WW2. This was a very surprising and disappointingly omission to the visits itinerary.

left to right Joe Vochyan, Vladimíra Horváthová and Zdeněk Sádecký

Congratulations to Czech Spitfire Club representatives Joe Vochyan and Zdeněk Sádecký who with Vladimíra Horváthová representing Promedica Praha, one of their sponsors and Jiří Soukup who took it upon themselves to pay their respects at this Memorial. The Spitfire Club’s motto of ‘My nezapomínáme’ ‘We don’t forget’ had been truly upheld!

At the Polish Airmen’s Memorial, Northwood.

Laying a wreath to commemorate the four Czechoslovak pilots who were killed whilst flying with Polish forces in WW2.

Many thanks to the Czech Air Force, Česká mincovna and Promedica Praha whose sponsorship enabled this trip to the UK to happen.

Posted in Battle of Britain, Ceremony, Events | Leave a comment

Slovak remembrance of the Battle of Britain pilots

Representatives from the Bratislava branch of the General Dr. M.R Štefánik Slovak Aviation Association, attended the National Battle of Britain Memorial, at Capel-le-Ferne, Kent. They laid a wreath to commemorate the 88 Czechoslovak pilots who had flown in that battle.


Support a Czechoslovak Battle of Britain pilot

You can sponsor any of the above Czechoslovak pilots, or any other pilots named on the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall. A sponsorship form can be downloaded here.

UK tax-payers may also increase the benefit of their donation by using ‘Gift Aid’. A Gift Aid form can be downloaded here.


Posted in 310 Sqd, 312 Sqd, Battle of Britain | Leave a comment

Plzen remembers the Czechoslovak Battle of Britain pilots.

On 13 July, representatives of the Letecký historický klub gen. Jana R. Irvinga Plzeň were at the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne, Kent for an informal ceremony to remember the 88 Czechoslovak pilots who had fought in that battle.

13. července se zástupci Leteckého historického klubu gen. Jana R. Irvinga Plzeň a Letců Plzeň zastavili u památníku Bitvy o Anglii v Capel-le-Ferne. Při neformálním obřadu vzpomněli na 88 československých pilotů, kteří bojovali v této bitvě.

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Václav Toman, the club’s president, laid a wreath to commemorate those 88 pilots.

Václav Toman, předseda klubu položil věnec k pomníku k uctění 88 pilotů, kteří bojovali v této bitvě.

A toast was made to remember the eight Czechoslovak pilots who were killed in the battle.

Poté všichni připili na vzpomínku na osm českoslobvenských pilotů, kteří padli v boji.


Support a Czechoslovak Battle of Britain pilot

Podporovat československé piloty v Bitvě o Británii

You can sponsor any of the above Czechoslovak pilots, or any other pilots named on the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall. A sponsorship form can be downloaded here.

Můžete poskytnout sponzorský dar některému z výše uvedených československých pilotů, nebo jinému pilotovi uvedenému na zdi Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial. Sponzorský formulář je možné stáhnout zde.

UK tax-payers may also increase the benefit of their donation by using ‘Gift Aid’. A Gift Aid form can be downloaded here.

Britští daňový poplatníci mohou také zvýšit výhodu svého daru pomocí “dárkové podpory”. Tento formulář je možné stáhnout zde.


Posted in 310 Sqd, 312 Sqd, Battle of Britain, Ceremony | 1 Comment

Recovery of Karel Pavlik´s Spitfire

De berging van Karel Pavlik’s Spitfire in 1997

Recovery of Karel Pavlik´s Spitfire in 1997
– near Dranouter in West Flanders, Belgium

Exkavace Spitfiru Karla Pavlíka v r. 1997
– nedaleko vesnice Dranouter v západních Flandrách v Belgii

On 5 May 1942, six RAF Boston, twin-engined bombers from 226 Sqn were on a mission to bomb the electric power station at Lille-Sequedin in Northern France. They were escorted by 36 Spitfires from 64 Sqn, 122 Sqn and 313 (Czechoslovak) Sqn in an operation named Circus 157.

5. května 1942, šest Bostonů RAF, dvoumotorových bombardérů 226.perutě, bylo vysláno na misi bombardovat elektrárnu v Lille-Sequedin v severní Francii. Byli doprovázeni 36 Spitfiry z 64., 122. a 313 (Československé) perutě při operaci pojmenované Circus 157.

At around 15:30 the formation was intercepted by 21 Fw-190 fighters from Jagdgeschwader 26 near Kemmelberg, Belgium In the dog-fight that followed the RAF fared badly with five Spitfires being shot down, with four of the pilots being killed, whilst the 5th, S/Ldr František Fajtl managed to land safely his damaged Spitfire, evade capture, escape across continental Europe and eventually reach the UK some three months later.

Kolem 15:30 odpoledne byla jejich formace narušena poblíž Kemmelbergu v Belgii 21 stíhačkami FW-190 Jagdgeschwader 26. V leteckém souboji, který následoval, RAF utrpěla těžké ztáty s pěti sestřelenými Spitfiry a čtyřmi piloty zabitými v boji, zatímco pátému – S/Ldr Františku Fajtlovi – se podařilo úspěšně přistát s poškozeným Spitfirem, vyhnout se zajetí a po tříměsíční únikové anabázi kontinentální Evropou dostat se zpět do Velké Británie.

One of the four who was killed was Sgt Karel Pavlík, a 23 year old Czechoslovak pilot from Plzeň who flew with 313 Sqn. His Spitfire Mk VB, BM261, being shot down at 15:45 Kemmel hill, near Dranouter, Belgium, having become the 70th ‘kill’ of Hauptmann Josef “Pips” Priller. Pavlik’s Spitfire, hit the ground at about 400 mph, the velocity causing it to become embedded some 8 metres deep in the Belgian blue sea-clay.

Jeden ze čtyř zabitých byl SGT Karel Pavlík, třiadvacetiletý československý pilot z Plzně, který létal u 313. perutě. Jeho Spitfire Mk VB, BM261 byl sestřelen v 15:45 na úpatí vrchu Kemmel poblíž vesnice Dranouter v Belgii a byl 70. “úspěchem” Hauptmanna Josefa “Pips” Prillera. Pavlíkův Spitfire narazil do země rychlostí asi 650 km/hod, a tato rychlost způsobila, že se zabořil téměř 8m hluboko do belgického modrého mořského jílu.

Pavlik´s remains were recovered by the Missing Research and Inquiry Service in July 1946 and interred at the CWGC section at Ypres Town Extension cemetery on 20th August 1946.

Pavlíkovy ostatky byly vyzvednuty ze země až v červenci 1946 a pohřben byl 20. srpna 1946 na vojenském hřbitově CWGC Ypres Town Extension.

In May 1997, the remains of the Spitfire were recovered, the excavation story by Dirk Decuypere below.

V květnu 1997 byla zorganizována akce na vyzvednutí zbytků Spitfiru​; příběh o exkavaci panem Dirkem Decuypere následuje​.


Eind mei 1997 vroeg Vlamertingenaar Wim Huyghe me om samen naar het wrak van Karel Pavlíks Spitfire in Dranouter op te graven. We spraken verschillende andere mensen aan om mee te helpen en zo werd de West-Vlaamse Groep-Huyghe-Decuypere opgericht. Intussen ging ik op bezoek bij de pachter van de weide waarin het vliegtuigwrak rustte: de weide van landbouwer Guido Rouseu. Ik was er bijzonder hartelijk ontvangen geworden en kreeg zijn medewerking.

At the end of May 1997, Wim Huyghe from Vlamertinge (near Ypres, Belgium) asked me to help him dig for the wreckage of Karel Pavlík´s Spitfire near Dranouter. We contacted various other people to help us with it, and that is how the West Flemish Group-Huyghe-Decuypere was founded. In the meantime, I visited the tenant of the meadow in which the wreck of the airplane rested: the meadow of farmer Guido Rouseu. I was very cordially welcome there and received his cooperation.

Na konci května 1997 se mě Wim Huyghe z obce Vlamertinge (blízko Ypres v Belgii)zeptal, jestli bych s ním nešel kopat, abychom společně našli vrak Spitfiru Karla Pavlíka poblíž Dranouteru. Obrátili jsme se na několik lidí s prosbou o pomoc, a tak byla založena západoflanderská Skupina Huyghe-Decuypere. Mezitím jsem navštívil pronájemce louky, ve které se nacházel vrak letadla: louky sedláka Guido Rouseua. Byl jsem tam velmi srdečně přivítán a dostalo se mi od něj spolupráce.

Op zaterdag 21 juni 1997 waren Wim Huyghe, Erwin Vandenbroucke en ikzelf ter plaatse met Guido Rouseu en Jerome Tancré, die als ooggetuigen optraden. Ze wezen – weliswaar op korte afstand van elkaar gelegen – verschillende precieze punten aan waar de Spitfire zou zijn ingeslagen. Uiteindelijk gaf de door Guido Rouseu aangeduide plek de eerste aluminium wrakstukjes van de Spitfire prijs: een halve meter onder de grond.

Saturday 21st June 1997, Wim Huyghe, Erwin Vandenbroucke and myself were at the location with Guido Rouseu and Jerome Tancré, who were eyewitnesses of the Spitfire crash on 5th May 1942. They pointed out – as a matter of fact within short distance from each other – various exact spots where the Spitfire supposedly hit the ground. Finally, the place indicated by Guido Rouseu yielded the first small aluminum wreckage bits of the Spitfire: half a metre underground.

V sobotu 21. června 1997 Wim Huyghe, Erwin Vandenbroucke a já sám jsme se nacházeli na místě spolu s Guidem Rouseuem a Jeromem Tancré, kteří byli očitými svědky (zřícení Spitfiru 5.května 1942. Označili – fakticky nedaleko od sebe – několik přesných míst, kde spitfire údajně narazil do země. Nakonec jedno z míst, označené Guido Rouseuem, vydalo první malé hliníkové kousky vraku Spitfiru: půl metru pod zemí.

Op de regenachtige zondag van 29 juni 1997 – om halfacht in de morgen – stonden we er opnieuw met de kers verse bergingsploeg Huyghe-Decuypere. We hadden ook BAHA (Belgian Aviation History Association) uitgenodigd om mee te werken aan de opgraving.

On a rainy Sunday of 29th June 1997 – at seven thirty in the morning – we stood there again with the brand new salvage team of Huyghe-Decuypere. We also invited BAHA (Belgian Aviation History Association) to work with us during the excavation.

V deštivé neděli 29. června 1997 v 7:30 ráno jsme tam stáli znovu – se zbrusu novým záchranným týmem Huyghe-Decuypere. Pozvali jsme také BAHA (Belgická asociace historického letectví), aby s námi pracovali na exkavaci.

In de eerste laag van twee meter werden nu en dan enkele wrakstukken gevonden, maar daarna bleef het wachten, en bleef de zo vertrouwde geur van brandstof aanvankelijk totaal uit de lucht. Toen de zwarte inslagvlek werd blootgelegd en onze neuzen dan toch de gebruikelijke brandstofgeur detecteerden, kregen we weer hoop.

We found solitary pieces of wreckage here and there in the first layer of two metres, but afterwards it was the waiting, and to begin with the so familiar scent of the fuel was completely absent in the air. When the black impact point was uncovered and our noses finally detected the usual smell of fuel, we were hopeful once again.

V první dvoumetrové vrstvě jsme našli tu a tam jednotlivé kusy vraku, ale potom následovalo čekání, protože tak důvěrně známá vůně paliva nebyla zpočátku ve vzduchu vůbec cítit. Když bylo odkryto černé místo nárazu a naše nosy konečně vystopovaly obvyklou vůni paliva, nabyli jsme opět naděje.

Maar ook in de volgende dubbele meter werd er quasi niks gevonden. De Dranouternaars hadden steeds benadrukt dat de piloot wel acht meter diep lag, dus zeker ook de motor. Er kon in elk geval nu al besloten worden dat én de Duitsers én de Britse bergingsploeg quasi alles wat ze boven en rond de piloot vonden, hadden meegenomen. Mogelijks wilden ze zoveel mogelijk materiaal voor de identificatie van de nog onbekende piloot recupereren.

But there was almost nothing found in the following two metres, either. The inhabitants of Dranouter had always stressed, that the pilot had layed eight metres deep, therefore surely the engine as well. One way or another, it could be concluded that both the German and the British salvage teams had taken with them almost everything they found above and around the pilot. It is possible they wanted to recover as much material as possible for the identification of the, as yet, unknown pilot.

Ale v dalších dvou metrech nebylo také nalezeno skoro nic. Obyvatelé Dranouteru vždycky zdůrazňovali, že pilot se nacházel určitě osm metrů pod povrchem země, tudíž motor jistě také. Tak či tak, jak německé, tak britské exkavační týmy s sebou vzaly téměř všechno, co nalezly nad a kolem pilota. Je možné, že chtěly získat co nejvíce materiálu, aby mohli identifikovat zatím neznámého pilota.

We waren weer al enkele plaklagen klei dieper gevorderd toen de kraanbak plots tegen de eerste verwrongen aluminium stukken van de rompsectie kraakte: van dan af kwam het ene stuk na het andere boven en werd er geploeterd en gewroeteld in de kleverige kleimassa. Op het zeildoek werden naast bijzonder veel aluminium stukken onder meer volgende onderdelen opengelegd: het rugleer van Pavlíks zetel, pantserplaatfragmenten, drie zuurstofflessen, delen van het flightpanel, een voetstuur, de uit elkaar geslagen radio, een stuk van de cockpitdeur en van het onderstel van de pilootstoel…. Het best bewaard was het instrument voor de remdrukmeter, evenals het onderste deel van de gunsight (vizier).

Reflector vizier.
Reflector gun sight.
Část zaměřovače.

We proceeded deeper, through several further slices of clay layers, when the digger bucket suddenly cracked against the first twisted aluminum pieces of the body section: from then on one piece after another surfaced and we were rooting and toiling in the sticky clay mass. On the sail-canvas were placed many aluminium artefacts amongst them the following parts: the leather of the back support of Pavlík´s seat, fragments of armoured plate, three oxygen bottles, parts of the flight panel, a footpedal, radio smashed to pieces, a piece of the cockpit door and a piece of the bottom part of the pilot´s seat…The instrument measuring the brake pressure was preserved the best, as well as the bottom part of the gunsight.

Pokračovali jsme dál a hlouběji několika vrstvami jílu,když lžíce rypadla náhle narazila na první zkroucené hliníkové kusy trupu letadla: od toho okamžiku se vynořoval jeden kus za druhým a my jsme kutali a dolovali v lepkavé mase jílu. Na plachetnicovém plátně přistávalo nesmírné množství hliníkových kusů a také následující součásti, mimo jiné: kůže ze zadní opory Pavlíkovy sedačky, fragmenty pancéřového panelu, tři kyslíkové lahve, části leteckého (řídícího) panelu, pedál, rádio rozdrcené na kousky, kus dveří kokpitu a také kus spodní části pilotovy sedačky…Instrument meřící tlak brzd byl zachován nejlépe, a taktéž spodní část zaměřovače.

Een van de grote problemen tijdens de opgraving was de “vloeibaarheid” van de Belgische blauwe klei. Aan een kant heeft de klei geholpen om de wrak van het vliegtuig te bewaren in een luchtdichte verzegeling, maar in de diepte van 8 meter betekende de vloeibaarheid van de klei ook, dat de uitgegraven put vulde zich zeer snel weer dicht. Daarom moest de team snel werken in de voortdurend veranderende omstandigheden.

Brake pressure gauge
Ukazatel tlaku v brzdách.

Oxygen regulator.
Regulátor kyslíku.

20mm kanon.
20mm cannon.
20 mm kanón.

Aluminium wrakstukken sorteren.
Sorting out aluminium wreckage.
Třídění trosek z hliníku.

A major difficulty encountered during the excavation was the ‘liquidity’ of the Belgium blue clay. Whilst it had helped preserve the aircraft remains giving it an airtight seal, its liquidity, especially at the depth of 8 metres meant that it closed in very quickly to fill any vacant space. Hence a need for the team to work quickly in those rapidly changing conditions.

Největším problémem při exkavaci byla “tekutost” belgického modrého jílu. Na jedné straně jíl pomohl díky své neprodyšnosti uchovat zbytky letounu, na druhé ale jeho “tekutost” speciálně v hloubce 8m způsobila, že se půda velmi rychle uzavírala, aby vyplnila vybagrovaný prostor. Proto musel tým pracovat spěšně v rychle se měnících podmínkách.

Het kroonstuk blijft echter de Rolls Royce-motor, die op zeven meter diepte rustte. En al had de motor uiteraard een flinke dreun gekregen, toch kwam hij relatief compact uit de bodem. De propellernaaf was de laatste die zich aan het daglicht prijsgaf. Slechts één uur en driekwart had de graafactie geduurd: kraanman Patrick Doom kon de put weer dichten. Om twaalf uur lag de weide weer vlak.

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However, the masterpiece was the Rolls-Royce engine, which rested at the depth of seven metres. And even though the engine suffered a severe pounding, it still came out of the ground in a relatively intact state. The propeller hub was the last piece which came to light. The excavation took only one hour and forty five minutes: the crane operator Patrick Doom could fill in the pit again. At 12 o´clock was the meadow level again.

Nicméně parádním kouskem byl motor Rolls-Royce, který spočíval v hloubce 7m. A přestože motor utrpěl značné omlácení, vynořil se ze země v relativně kompaktním stavu. Osa vrtule spatřila denní světlo jako poslední. Exkavace trvala jen jednu a tři čtvrtě hodiny: operátor rypadla Patrick Doom mohl jámu znovu naplnit. V poledne byla louka opět upravená.

Alles werd op twee opleggers geladen en naar kolenhandelaar Vanacker in Vlamertinge gebracht, die zo vriendelijk was zijn hogedrukreiniger en voldoende werkruimte ter beschikking te stellen. Nog de hele verdere zondag en ook nog de hele daaropvolgende maandag hebben we met twee man alle stukken een eerste grondige reinigingsbeurt gegeven. Hierbij hield Wim Huyghe zich quasi louter bezig met de motor en de super¬charger, die er zondagavond al behoorlijk ‘cleaner’ uitzagen. Op één van de identificatieplaatjes werd nu onder andere duidelijk leesbaar dat het toestel uit de Castle Bromwich A/C Factory rolde als het 2144e van het type Merlin 45 voor Spitfire Vb.

Everything was loaded on two trailers and taken to Vanacker, the coal merchant in Vlamertinge, who very kindly provided his high pressure cleaner and enough workspace placed at our disposal. Yet another whole Sunday and even the following Monday the two of us cleaned thoroughly all the pieces for the first time. Wim Huyghe was busy almost exlusively with the engine and the supercharger, which looked considerably cleaner by Sunday evening. On one of the small identification plates, it was now clearly legible – amongst other – that the machine rolled off the Castle Bromwich A/C Factory as 2144th of the type Merlin 45 for Spitfire Vb.

Vše bylo naloženo na dva traktorové závěsy a odvezeno k obchodníku s uhlím, panu Vanackerovi ve Vlamertinge,který nám také velmi laskavě propůjčil vysokotlakou čističku a dostatek pracovního místa. Další celou neděli a dokonce následující pondělí jsme my dva poprvé důkladně čistili všechny kusy. Wim Huyghe se zabýval výlučně motorem a turbodmychadlem, které vypadaly podstatně čistější v neděli večer. Na jednom z malých identifikačních štítků jsme teď mohli jasně přečíst, kromě jiného,že motor vyjel z továrny na letadla v Castle Bromwich jako 2144. typu Merlin pro Spitfire Vb.

De Merlin motor werd keurig gerestaureerd.
The Merlin engine has been faithfully restored.
Motor Merlin byl věrně restaurován.

De Merlin motor werd keurig gerestaureerd.
The Merlin engine has been faithfully restored.
Motor Merlin byl věrně restaurován.

Toont goed de schade die de motor incasseerde bij impact.
Shows the devastation that occurred to the engine on impact.
Poškození motoru vzniklé nárazem.

In de daaropvolgende weken is Wim de motor blijven schoonmaken bij hem thuis.

In the following weeks, Wim continued to clean the engine at his place.

V následujících týdnech Wim pokračoval v čištění motoru u sebe doma.

In mei 2011 schonk Dirk Decuypere op de crash site in Dranouter enkele stukjes van de Spitfire aan de zus en dochter van Karel Pavlik.

In ​May ​2011, at the Dranouter ​crash site, Dirk Decuypere presented​ the sister and daughter ​of ​Karel Pavlik with artefacts from the Spitfire.

​V květnu 2011 Dirk Decuypere​ předal sestře a dceru Karla Pavlíka artefakty z jeho Spitfiru.

© Dirk Decuypere

(Translated from Dutch by M. Kolarikova 2014)
(Z holandštiny přeložila M. Kolaříková 2014)


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